Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beginning Sewing Essentials

Have you ever wanted to learn to sew but you just didn't know where to start? Are you a parent of a child who would love to learn how to sew but you don't have a clue as what to buy for them to start out sewing? Well don't worry because I have a list of all the items that are a must for you to start sewing.

First of all, you will need something to put all of your sewing supplies in. There are so many cute sewing baskets out there to choose from. Like this cute little butterfly basket from JoAnns Fabrics.
Cute Butterfly Basket from JoAnn
But sometimes those cute little baskets are very pretty but not very practical.  I just use a simple plastic container that I got from Walmart. The plastic is see through and I can check at a glance if I have the item that I need.
My sewing box

Another very important item is a really good pair of scissors. These are very important to be able to cut fabric with and they need to be sharp! One thing that you don't want to do is to ever cut anything but fabric with them. If you cut paper or anything else, it will dull them or even damage them. And don't spare the expense on these. A really good pair of quality scissors will probably cost at least $30 or more. I also like a pair of small scissors to clip threads with. They can get to places on your project that the big scissors can't. My scissors are made by Gingher. Both Gingher and Fiskars are very good brands of scissors.

A pair of small scissors and my larger ones for cutting fabric.
Another item that is valuable to sewing is a seam ripper. This is used to rip out stitches whenever you make a mistake. And believe me, a good seamstress always has one or two of these handy because mistakes do happen. Nobody is perfect!

Seam ripper 
Another sewing notion that is invaluable is Fray Check. You can use this to keep fabrics from ravelling. I like to use it at the end of my seam to keep the thread from fraying. But it really comes in handy for those problem fabrics like satin or silk.
Fray Check to stop fraying
I will list other items that you will want to get to get you started sewing:
pin cushions or magnetic pin holders
needles to use in hand sewing
marking pens or chalk to mark symbols from patterns onto your fabric
tape measure to measure whoever you are sewing for to make sure your garment fits
hem or seam guide
various widths of elastic
thread case
bobbin case
I like a magnetic pin holder for my straight pins and a stuffed one for my needles.
I think that I have just about covered most of the essential things that you need to have to get started sewing. Next time I will discuss sewing machines and how to take proper care of them. I hope that this helped you to learn what items you need when you start learning how to sew.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

5 Great 18 Inch Doll Fall Looks and One Free Pattern

Well, tomorrow I go back to work from my summer vacation. I work as a librarian at an elementary school and so I've been off work for about 2 months.  It has been a good one but I hate to see it go. We didn't really do a lot this year. I went to my mom's house in Tennessee two times this year. It's been hard on her since my dad died but she's doing better. And then my daughter went to camp and on a mission trip. So all in all I think it has been a good summer. But usually I'm pretty much ready to get back in a routine and see all of my co-workers again. And of course the kids are great too!

I thought that I would share with you some of my outfits that would be great for your 18 inch doll to start to school in. All of these outfits are available in my Etsy Shop.

Cute school girl jumper and pink blouse.
The first one is one of my latest outfits. It is a black and white polyester jumper and pink cotton blouse. It is made from a pattern by 18 On Main. The second one is an olive green corduroy jumper and floral matching blouse. It is also made from a pattern by 18 On Main. You can find this pattern on Pixie Faire.

Cute green corduroy jumper and floral blouse.

Teacher's Pet school dress
Next is a cute green daisy print dress. Your doll will be at the top of her class in this one! This was made from a pattern by Kotton Candy Doll Fashions. You can find it on Etsy. I made a brown dotted dress from the same pattern. The final dress that I have to show you is a dress made by the Teacher's Pet School dress pattern by Kotton Candy Doll Fashions in an argyle print. Any of these 5 looks would be great for your 18 inch doll to wear on that very special first day of school.

Now I have an added bonus for you. Every doll just has to have a great backpack to start to school. And if you love to sew, you will love this free backpack pattern by Stephanie from Many Small Friends. This is such a cute backpack pattern. I just love that it has two buckles that buckle. I kind of reminds me of the book satchels that I used to carry to school way back when! You should really check her blog out!  I hope that everyone has a terrific school year!

*Disclaimer- I am not affiliated in any way with the American Girl Doll company or any other 18 inch doll company.

Friday, August 14, 2015

DIY American Girl Doll House

My American Girl doll house is starting to take shape. It has come a long way from just being a couple of metal utility shelves. You see I've always wanted to have an AG doll house for my daughter (and also for myself) But the doll houses can get quite expensive and also I don't know anyone who is handy with woodworking. So I found this really great idea for an inexpensive way to make a doll house for American Girl dolls. I found the idea on Pinterest. If you follow me you will see the pin on one of my boards. Anyway I made my house from shelves that I bought from Lowes. The shelves are 72" h x 48" w x 18" d. Right now I have 2 but I may buy a third so that I can have some additional rooms. I have a kitchen on one of the bottom shelves, a living room and bath on another bottom shelf, and two bedrooms on the upper shelves. When you are buying shelves, make sure that you can adjust the shelves so that you can give the dolls plenty of headroom. It takes quite a bit of time to get your doll house in the shape that you want it. I have been working on my doll house for over a year now and it's still not done but it's looking better everyday. I have done a lot to it over the summer.

My kitchen. We got the kitchen set from Our Generation.
The kitchen area has a floor that was made from foam core board that was covered in Contact paper. The baking table is just a jewelry box that I painted white. I believe that I got the jewelry box from Micheals. The kitchen/dining area is not complete yet. I still need to get a table and chairs set. The living room right now only has a floor that is a carpet sample that I got from Walmart. They were about $2 each. I made the fireplace from a shoe box and covered it with paper that looks like brick. I got that idea from a tutorial on YouTube from Deena and Beena .

Inkpot is warming himself by the fire.
I made the wall of the living room from a big piece of cardboard and I glued scrapbook paper onto it for wallpaper. The neat thing about these shelves is that you can clip either cardboard or core foam board onto it to make a wall. I eventually will make a couch and chair for the living room with a pattern that I have from McCalls. The pattern no. is M6853 in case you are wondering. The bathroom is next to the living room. I used a piece of foam board to divide the two rooms. I made the floor from another piece of foam board and then I covered it with sample tiles that I got from the Home Depot. I got a few at a time because they don't really have a lot of them available and two I didn't want to just wipe them out of samples. When I had all of the tiles that I needed, I hot glued them onto the foam board. My shower is from an idea that I got watching a video from My Froggy Stuff . I used two wooden drawers from JoAnn fabrics, a wooden plaque from Walmart, and a paper clip holder that I ordered from Amazon. I painted the drawers and the plaque with some spray paint. I also used that same paint to paint the wall of Grace's room. I still need to add a mirror above the vanity and a few more things to add the finishing touches.

My bathroom floor made from sample floor tiles.

The second shelf is where I have the bedrooms. The first bedroom is Isabelle and Saige's room. I got a bunk bed from Amazon. The bedding that came with it was not what I wanted so I just made bedding for it. I made mattresses and bedding for it. I used a pattern by Stacy and Stella on Pixie Faire. I think that pillows for it are really cute. The carpet here is also samples from Walmart. I made the window from a tutorial by My Froggy Stuff. The lamp is from the Dollar Tree. I covered the lamp shade with scrapbook paper. I made my own pattern for the lamp shade. I had to raise one of the shelves a little higher than the other one because my daughter insisted that the dolls had to be able to sit up on the top bunk! The next bedroom is going to be Grace's room. I used a piece of foam board and spray painted it Blue Ocean Breeze by Krylon. Oh and Isabelle's wall is also made from foam board. I spray painted it also. The color is called Ballet Pink. Perfect for Isabelle! Her room is not quite finished yet. I still need a bed and some other additional items to make it complete. I found the picture frames from Hobby Lobby in the area where you find things for school lockers. I just cut a picture of one of the dolls and put it in the frame. Then I attached it to the wall with a piece of mounting tape. My daughter was playing with her dolls and she put sleeping bags in Grace's room since she didn't have a real bed in there.

This is Grace's room.

When I got up this morning it looked like the dolls had had a party last night. Because there were red Solo cups everywhere and Inkpot was eating the pizza out of the box! I just love it when my daughter enjoys playing with her dolls.

It looks like they were playing Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Baking With Grace: August Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

As you know, Grace 2015 GOTY just loves to bake and I do too! So I thought that each month Grace and I would do some baking and feature a different cupcake flavor or theme. This month's cupcake will be Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. They just seem to be the perfect kind of cupcake for summer. What could be better in the hot month of August than strawberry lemonade?
Grace just loves to bake in her kitchen.

I also had another great helper in my kitchen, it was my daughter Emily. She also loves to bake. She read the recipe for me while I gathered the ingredients. I found the recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes on
These are the ingredients for the cupcakes.

First of all, I had to line my muffin tin with cupcake liners. I found some pretty liners at Walmart in the Wilton baking section. I also found a neat little gadget that takes the guess work out of filling cupcakes or muffins. You just fill the little cup (included in the package) up to the top and scrape out your cake batter into the cake liners. Easy peasy and you get a perfect amount in there without your cupcake erupting over the top of your liner. 
I love this gadget by Wilton!
Then we measured our dry ingredients and set them aside. After that, we whisked together sugar, the melted butter, and egg until smooth. (Oh and you might want to let your melted butter cool just a bit and add it slowly into the egg or you may end up with scrambled eggs!) Then add your yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract. And by the way, does anyone not know what lemon zest is? Unless you bake a lot, you may not know. The zest of the lemon is the yellow skin of the lemon. You want to use a fine grater or a lemon zester. You just want to grate the yellow part and not down to the white part of the lemon because the white part is really bitter. But you need 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and one lemon should give you that.

Here I have grated the lemon to get the zest.

After you add that, you will beat it with a whisk attachment of your mixer until it is smooth. Now you can add your flour and mix until smooth. You don't want to over mix it. Now here is where that handy little gadget from Wilton comes in that I told you about. Scoop the batter into that and scrape it out with the little spatula into the cupcake liners. Now bake the cupcakes in a 350 oven for 22-25 minutes. 

While the cupcakes are baking, you can clean up your mess first! Because you know that there will be messes. I have a feeling that Grace made some messes when she was making her cupcakes. Pssst....... I'll tell you about it later. Then after the dishes are washed, you can gather your ingredients for the frosting. 

The ingredients for the frosting.

Now I've got to tell you that my daughter Emily is so smart! As I was reading the list of ingredients, I noticed that it said to use 6 oz. of butter at room temp. Well sometimes I really have to think about measurements and equivalents really hard. It doesn't always come so easy with me. So as I was looking it up on my Ipad, she was already figuring it out in her head. She came up with the answer quicker that the internet or I could! 6 oz. of butter equals to a stick and a half or 12 tablespoons. Smart! 
Well anyway, I washed the strawberries and put them in my Magic Bullet because I don't have a food processor. I'm telling you I just love my Magic Bullet! You can do a whole lot more with them than just make smoothies. Although they are very good for those too!

I used my Magic Bullet to puree the strawberries.

And it worked great!
Now just set those strawberries aside while you mix the egg whites and sugar. You want to heat a pan of water on the stove and get it to simmer. You want to make kind of a double boiler. Put your mixing bowl on the pan of simmering water and whisk the egg whites and sugar for about 3 minutes or until it's hot. Then put it back onto your upright mixer. Whisk this until it's cool about 6-10 minutes. Beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time until it is smooth. Now gradually beat in the lemon juice, then the vanilla.

It should look something like this.
Now at this point, you could leave it like this and you would just have lemon frosting but if you want to, add the strawberries now. Then frost the cupcakes.
Here are my cupcakes. They are probably not as pretty as the ones on

Now ok, I'm going give a review of this recipe. I thought that they tasted alright. They weren't bad. They kind of tasted like lemon pie. The cake part was kind of dense though. The texture was more like a muffin rather than a cupcake. And the frosting (assuming that I did it right) was not like a buttercream that I have ever tasted. I don't think that I would make these again. But they might have been better with a different kind of frosting.

Now to tell you about Grace's day of baking. While she and Saige were mixing the dry ingredients, Isabelle's cat Puff got into the flour and had flour and sugar everywhere! And then the bowls were knocked over and the eggs were all over the floor! But no worry, Puff just decided that she would lick the bowl.

Oh no Puff! What did you do?

Puff is licking the bowl. And cupcakes are every where!

I hope you're proud of yourself, Puff!

Then after that disastrous day of baking, Grace decided that she needed a nap! 

Grace decided to take a nap after this rough day of baking.
Maybe next month's baking will be better! Stay tuned for September's cupcake of the month. I think it may have something to do with apples! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

My First American Girl Doll Store Visit

I thought that I would share my experience with visiting the American Girl Doll store. I asked my daughter what she would like to do for her birthday this year and she said that she wanted to go to the AG store. Well I think that I was just as excited to go as she was. So a couple of months before her birthday, I made some reservations to eat at the Bistro Cafe there at the AG store in Dallas, TX. We went on the day of her birthday July 23. She turned 13 and it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate her birthday. So my husband drove us there and he went to the mall in Lewisville while we shopped.
The front of the store at the Dallas Galleria.

Emily chose to take her doll Saige and her newest doll Grace to the store.

When we got to the store, we asked if we could have a personal shopper because we heard that it was helpful to have one. We did not know about this free option so we did not make reservations for one. I found out that in order to reserve a person shopper, that you have to make those reservations about 3 months in advance. I called AG to see if we could get one but they said that it was too late. But they said to ask when we got there and we might be lucky enough to get one. Since this was on a weekday and not a weekend we did get lucky and we were able to get a personal shopper. I did find this feature some what helpful but Emily was so excited that she just wanted to go off on her own and look. So I think that if we ever go back, that we will just forego the personal shopper and do it on our own.

Rebecca one of the BeForever line of dolls. I like her she is really pretty.

Julie and her Volkswagon. She's one of my favorites mainly because this was the time era in which I grew up.

Emily decided on getting Caroline. I think she was a good choice especially since she is being retired this year.
I will have to start thinking of outfits to make for Caroline.

Our personal shopper helped my daughter decide what we were wanting to buy. At first Emily was wanting to get one of the Bitty Baby Twins but when she saw the display of Caroline, she changed her mind. She not only got Caroline but she also got her Holiday gown. It's a beautiful gown that comes with long white satin gloves, plum colored shoes, and a braided headband. Oh and Emily also got the accessories that come with Caroline. It includes a gorgeous hat that ties with a ribbon, a bag and a toy top.She also got Caroline's pet cat Inkpot.  She also got a pet from the Truely Me collection. She picked out the Himalayan cat because she loves cats. She also got a pink princess collar for the cat. We didn't really mean to get the Himalayan cat because we had chosen Inkpot instead but the personal shopper rang it up by accident. By the time we had noticed it, it was a little too late. Yes we probably got more than what we should have but birthdays only come once a year right?

A cute dress from the Truely Me collection.

One of the newest items in the Truely Me collection. I love that the desk flips up. I would love to have this someday.

Cute table and chairs! I love the play food and the Crock Pot.

Truely Me dolls
I like the new Asian look to one of the dolls.

More Truely Me dolls

Upstairs at the Bistro
They had a display with the GOTY doll Grace.
This is her travel set.

 This is the bakery cart. Cute!

After we checked out, we went upstairs and waited to be seated for our lunch. We really wanted to get Saige's hair done at the salon but there was a 3 hour wait and our reservations would be ready in an hour. So we said that we would do that some other time. The next time we will get in line for that as soon as we get there. But we were finally seated and we placed our order. Emily ordered the pretzel appetizers with cheese dip and I got the spinach and artichoke dip. My dip came with little pita triangles. It was good. Emily liked hers but she was expecting the pretzels to look like pretzels. Instead, they came to her on a skewer like a shish kabob. For the main course, she ordered mac and cheese (which came as no surprise to me) and I got the Bistro burger. I thought that the burger was good. For dessert, Emily ordered a birthday cupcake that she got to decorate. And when they brought it to her, they sang Happy Birthday. Of course all 3 of our dolls got to eat too! When we were done, we got to keep all of the little plastic plates and the cups that the dolls drank out of. We also got the hair ties that were our napkin rings. I thought that the service was great! I would definitely go again. Sorry this was such a long post, but we had so much fun that I just had to tell all about our great day!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pixie Faire's Weekly Giveaway

My favorite website for buying patterns for 18 inch dolls such as American Girl dolls, is Pixie Faire. I make a lot of my doll clothes from their patterns. And they have the most amazing designers! Right now, they are having a giveaway contest where you decide which doll modeled the outfit best. All you have to do is go on their website and click the link below the picture of the dolls. Then you will choose which doll that you think modeled it best. They also give you other opportunities to have more entries to the contest. So go to their site, and choose who you think modeled it best. Good luck!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sale at the AG store

The American Girl store is having a great sale! A few of their select items are 40% while supplies last. I got the winter snow scene. I'm going to do some photo shoots with it . Plus the scenes are great for girls to have fun and play with. I like the fact that you can download music from your phone to use as background music. It's really fun.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Welcome to My Blog!

My latest outfit made with the Skip To My Lou pattern by 18 On Main.
This is my first post on my new blog. I decided to just scrap the old blog and go with a new one. I'm going to try to keep things simple and just focus on better content with my blog and not worry so much about getting all fancy with it. I have an Etsy online shop called Everything Nice 4 Dolls. On it I sell clothes for 18 inch dolls that I make myself in my smoke free sewing shop. I have been doing this for about 2 years now and in that time I have learned a lot of sewing techniques that I didn't know before. In this blog, I would like to share tutorials about sewing and American Girl doll crafts, information about upcoming sales and where you can find me selling locally. I'll also try to post lots and lots of pictures of my latest outfits that I'm working on because I think that's what people want to see.

One of my newest outfits made by the Lil' Bit O Country pattern by Matilda's Closet.
This sold really quick right after I made it. It's now back in stock.